Original article no longer available
The Athlone Advertiser
by Martina Nee
A man, who had been drinking while on medication for depression, was found running around an Athlone housing estate while brandishing “a scythe”. A six month suspended sentence was imposed.
At Tuesday’s sitting of the Athlone District Court Michael McGuinness (37) with an address at 2 Anvil House, Battery Road, Athlone, pleaded guilty to possessing an offensive weapon, namely a sickle which had a blade or which was sharply pointed, and with threatening and abusive behaviour on July 3, 2008, at Battery Heights.
Inspector Paul Cuttle told the court that at 11.25pm the defendant had been involved in an altercation at the house of his ex-partner and gardai were called. The Inspector said that when gardai arrived at the scene the defendant was aggressive and produced “what was described as a scythe”. The defendant then started running around the estate with this instrument but eventually handed it over to gardai.
The court also heard how McGuinness had previous convictions for public order offences for which he received fines.
When McGuinness took the stand he told the court that he had been drinking at the house when his girlfriend said that he had slapped her. He said that the girlfriend’s family then started beating him with sticks and he called the gardai. He added that he “got the sickle” because he was “just trying to get out of the house”.
McGuinness said that he has been on medication for depression since 1995 and had been “locked up” in St Loman’s Hospital in Mullingar. He admitted that he should not have been drinking while taking this medication adding that he sometimes forgot what he did.
Defence solicitor, Mr Paul Connellan, said that his client had been remanded in custody at Cloverhill after appearing at a special court sitting held last Friday. He said that this was the defendant’s first experience of prison.
Replying to questions by Mr Connellan, the defendant said that “it is not a nice place” and that he’d “rather go back to St Loman’s than go back there”. He told Judge David Anderson that he is currently unemployed but had worked in the landscaping business.
“That explains why you had the sickle,” said Judge Anderson.
“I have an antique… it’s the only one I have,” replied McGuinness.
Judge Anderson then imposed a six month suspended sentence. He warned the defendant that if he came before the court again with similar offences “the six months will be waiting” for him.
Following a request by Inspector Cuttle, Judge Anderson ordered that the sickle be handed over to gardai.
(Publication Date: 11/07/2008)